Dioceses in Botswana supported by Catholic Relief Services

Vicariate of Francistown OVC Office (VoF), with Catholic Relief Services (CRS)

OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) and Gender Project

In Botswana, CRS supported the Church in providing the following services to the needy in 2012:

1) Through the Diocese of Gaborone/Tirisanyo Catholic Commission, the Church is assisting approximately 150 orphans and vulnerable children in the Kgalagadi settlements and Lobatse (St. Theresa’s Centre), through day care centres for children. The children are of parents who were sick or had already passed away. There is nowhere for them to go and be safe. Their play and movements are supervised and whenever possible they are fed. Some of these children are sick. The idea is to keep the children in safe environments and to prepare them to enter primary schools which the government of Botswana has now established in all six Kgalagadi North settlements in the desert.

Childcare is aimed especially at those from 2 years to 4 years and the pre-schools for those 5 and 6 years who are now being prepared to enter the formal government education system. The children receive stimulation and learn to work together and to follow simple instructions – to talk to each other, sing and dance, paint and draw pictures, ask for help, listen and tell stories, etc. Additionally, the project provides care and protection for children outside the classrooms, during those times when they are not in the safe environments of schools. For this activity the age range goes up to 18 years. The children meet and mix with others – they can learn about HIV and AIDS issues, can be counseled and helped to access what they need. Club coordination and volunteers come to know the families their club members come from and can help in many ways when families are destitute. They are faced with serious issues like sickness, abuse, etc, and they can helped. Funding for these activities comes from CRS private resources (donations and contributions made through the US Bishops’ Conference).

2) Through the Vicariate of Francistown/OVC office, the project provides assistance to 1,200 persons (orphans and vulnerable children, youth and qualifying adults) throughout the 6 field sites (Francistown, Sebina, Palapye, Kasane, Gumare and Maun). The project (called “Tsela Kgopo”, meaning “Meandering Road” in Tswana) is funded under the United States Government’s PEPFAR initiative, and aims to improve the quality of life of OVC (Orphans and Vulnerable Children) and their parents/caregivers and improve gender-based responses and programming in HIV/AIDS activities in Botswana over a three year period (2012 to 2014). The project is implemented in partnership with implementing organizations: Project Concern International (PCI) as the “prime recipient” of funds, CRS, Hope World Wide Botswana (HWWB), Humana People to People (HPP), Marang Child Care Network Trust (MCCNT); the Government of Botswana (GOB); and a wide array of community and private sector organizations. The main interventions of the project focus on early childhood development (primarily including orphans and vulnerable children), psychosocial support, improving learning opportunities for youth, providing income generation support to vulnerable adults (primarily women), reducing gender-based discrimination and violence, and increasing the involvement of other stakeholders, including local businesses, in order to ensure medium to long term sustainability of activities.

CRS is also utilizing some of its private funds to support the work of the “Ave Maria Counseling Centre” run by the Vicariate in Francistown. The centre is based at the Our Lady of Desert Cathedral in Francistown, and offers free counseling to needy individuals and families at its premises. It is staffed by the full-time counselor, who also offers counseling services at the Francistown prison to needy inmates, who are not allowed to leave the prison premises but are equally in need of counseling. In 2011 alone, there were 1,628 individual counseling sessions provided.

Finally, CRS has also supported the Training of Trainers under the theme of Education for Life. Training activities took place in August/September and were facilitated by the Vicariate of Francistown. Training was provided to adults who can carry the Behavior Change process forward.